The Highland Council has recently received the results of an independent study it commissioned to assess the impacts of Scotland’s Housing Expo which was held during the month of August 2010 at Balvonie Braes, Milton of Leys, Inverness. The full results of the study will be reported to the Council’s Planning, Environment and Development Committee on Wednesday 17 March 2011. The study details that the total number of day visits to the Expo amounted to 33,182 – more than 10% higher than the target set by the Expo Board. 39% of the visitors came from the Inverness area with a further 28% from elsewhere in Highland. Day and overnight visitors from elsewhere in Scotland accounted for a further 31.5% of the attendees. Overseas visitors came from Norway, Finland, Austria, France and the USA.
Since the economic climate has adversely affected housing construction the timing and impacts associated with the site development and construction of the 52 houses (20 of which were ‘affordable’) was particularly helpful for the construction companies involved in the Expo. The report states: ‘Virtually all of this activity can be regarded as additional’. Costs of developing the site and building the houses were in the region of £14 million. Construction activity on the site created 240 full-time equivalent jobs, 14 apprenticeships and £5.8 million in associated direct income and spend during the construction phase.
Overall the Expo event generated off-site visitor expenditure for the local economy of £457,000 and created some 28 full-time equivalent jobs with related earnings income of £543,000. Ticket and programme sales amounted to £137,000.
The total cost of planning for and running the event (since 2008) amounted to nearly £651,000. The Highland Council contributed £263,000 of this budget and Highlands & Islands Enterprise £70,000.
Councillor Jean Urquhart, Chairman of the Expo Board, said: “The Expo has put Inverness and the Highlands on both the national and international stage and will leave a legacy of 52 houses that will form a new community with a sense of place, which is well integrated into the local landscape. The Expo will set the standard and shape the way ahead for future housing developments.
I wholeheartedly congratulate all involved. and hope that the Expo’s undoubted success will be repeated in future Expos.”
Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Planning Environment and Development Committee, said: “Thousands of people enjoyed the experience and their visit to the Expo. It created considerable interest and constructive debate and the feedback received demonstrates that people do indeed care and are extremely interested in the surroundings, the environment and the houses in which they wish to live. The Expo showcased innovative, modern, low energy, housing designs and stimulated the wider use of sustainable local timber and other Highland materials.”
Both paid tribute to the Architects, Developers, Highland Housing Alliance, Council staff and the many others who worked so tirelessly to get the Expo up and running in August of last year in this very challenging economic climate.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Other findings from the Study were:-
- 82% of visitors were adults and 18% children
- Visitor numbers peaked at weekends and during the last week
- 33.4% of all visits took place during the last 7 days of the event
- 2445 people purchased season tickets
- Groups from Norway, Finland, Austria, France, the Outer Hebrides and Orkney visited the Expo
- There were many visits by groups of professionals from different parts of Scotland
- Other Local Authorities who visited included Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife, Shetland, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire
- Housing Associations from Dundee, Shetland, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen also attended
- Schools from Inverness, Plockton, Fort Augustus, Ardersier, Aboyne, Ullapool and Bettyhill visited along with students from Inverness College
- Visitors particularly interested in learning from the Expo included a leading property specialist from Australia and a reporter from the Chicago Tribune
- 84% of visitors who attended the Expo came because of recommendations from friends and colleagues, through hearing or seeing adverts or by reading newspaper and magazine articles
- 60% of visitors stated that the Expo was more or much more interesting than they expected
- The best features that visitors commented upon were the variety of houses and the designs and innovation they saw
- The average visitor stayed at the Expo for just under 4 hours